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John Howe, a former Red Wing, Minn., mayor and state senator.

Former state senator, Red Wing mayor to run for secretary of state

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Former state senator, Red Wing mayor to run for secretary of state
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RED WING, Minn. -- John Howe hopes to have his name back on the ballot this fall.

Howe, a former Red Wing mayor and state senator, has announced he is seeking the Republican endorsement for secretary of state.


“I certainly enjoyed my time when I served in the Senate and also when I served as mayor,” Howe said. “It’s a great opportunity to get back into public service.”

Howe announced his decision just after the sole GOP candidate, Dennis Nguyen, dropped out of the race, but Howe said that did not affect his decision and he already had planned to run.

Howe was elected Red Wing’s mayor in 2008 and to the state Senate in 2010. He ran for the Senate again in 2012 but was defeated by DFLer Matt Schmit.

Howe said maintaining election integrity is the most important aspect of the Secretary of State’s Office.

“I would certainly work closely with the legislative body and Campaign Finance Board” to strengthen campaign laws and penalties, Howe said, noting “you shouldn’t be able to cheat and keep your seat.”

The secretary of state’s position would be a change from his days in the Legislature, but would be similar to work he did as owner of several Sears stores and chairman of the Sears Dealer Council, Howe said.

“It’s a much different role; it’s more of an executive role,” he said. “It’s more similar to when I worked for Sears and similar in nature to an executive position.”

Howe said his business background would help him in the role.

“Government needs to operate at the speed of commerce,” he said. “The Secretary of State’s Office does a great job of online and in-person processing of business filings, and I intend to continue to improve upon it.”

Howe said he would abide by the party’s endorsement if other Republicans entered the race.

“It’s very important to recognize the delegates and the importance of the process,” he said.

In the coming weeks, Howe said, “the biggest thing is working with the delegates to get the endorsement.”

Former Sen. Ted Daley, R-Eagan, also is considering running, sources say. He has not made an official announcement.

Reps. Debra Hilstrom of Brooklyn Center and Steve Simon of Hopkins are seeking the DFL nomination for secretary of state.

Howe and his wife live with their three children in Red Wing. He owns and operates a real estate management company.

Danielle Killey
Danielle Killey is the city reporter for the Republican Eagle, where she has worked since 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a journalism degree.
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